Understanding the patterns of convergence and divergence in two ethnic groups

Prof Zhou explain the concept of ethnic group

Prof Zhou Min presented a talk titled “Patterns of Convergence and Divergences: Contemporary Chinese and Indian Immigrants in Los Angeles, USA” on 22 July 2019 at UTAR Sungai Long Campus. The event was organised by UTAR Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre of Social and Policy Studies (TCLC).

Present at the talk were TCLC Chairperson Assoc Prof Dr Chin Yee Mun, Programme Coordinator for Curriculum Development (Non-Science and Technology Programmes) Dr Ngeow Yeok Meng, lecturers and students.

In the talk, Prof Zhou spoke about the contemporary Chinese and Indian immigrants in the United States, Immigration policy reforms and immigrant selectivity, divergent patterns of immigrant integration and other related topics.

Prof Zhou said, “Chinese is the largest Asian ethnic group while Indians are the third-largest Asian group. Most Chinese are concentrated in two states known as New York and California while Indians are half concentrated in five states known as California, New Jersey, Texas, New York and Illinois.” She added, “The three ways to achieve economic integration is through the time-honoured path of starting from the bottom, professional path through educational attainment and entrepreneurial path. Findings about immigrant entrepreneurship show that immigrants are more likely than natives to be self-employed. The traditional types of ethnic businesses are mom-and-pop stores, street vendors, laundry services, barbershops, labour-intensive manufacturing such as garment factories.”

This talk examines how immigrant selectivity and contexts of reception shape socioeconomic integration, identity formation, sense of belonging, and the idea of home, based on a Comparative study of contemporary Chinese and Indian immigrants in metropolitan Los Angeles, USA. While the two national-origin groups under study are hyper-selected and are generally well integrated economically in Los Angeles, the immigrants’ experiences on the ground are more complex than expected. Contemporary Chinese and Indian immigrants, especially the highly-skilled, do not fit neatly into the linear models of assimilation. Rather, they display multivariate, and even peculiar and counter-intuitive patterns of integration and identity formation. The patterns of convergence and divergence of these two highly educated groups emerge from the interactive processes of immigrant selectivity and social transformations in the context of reception at the dual-levels of the host society and ethnic community.

University of California, Los Angeles Sociology and Asian American Studies Prof Zhou Min holds the position of Walter and Shirley Wang Endowed Chair in US-China Relations and Communications, and director of the Asia Pacific Centre at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. Prof Zhou’s research areas are in migration & development, Chinese diaspora, education, ethnic entrepreneurship, and the sociology of Asia and Asian America. Recently, she has published an award-winning book titled The Asian American Achievement Paradox (with Lee, 2015), along with The Rise of the New Second Generation (with Bankston, 2016) and Contemporary Chinese Diasporas (ed., 2017). She is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Career Award of the American Sociological Association Section on International Migration.

Dr Chin (front row, far right), Prof Zhou (front row, second from right) with audience